Philosophy student curates Ukrainian Pavilion at Venice Biennale

Exhibition view of Net Making at the 60th La Biennale di Venezia. Courtesy of the Ukrainian Pavilion. ©Rob Battersby.

A University of Liverpool student, Vika Bavykina has curated the Ukrainian Pavilion at the 60th Venice Biennale, one of the most prestigious art events in the world.

Vika is a Fulbright Scholar studying for an MA in Art, Philosophy and Cultural Institutions. She is one of the two curators of the Ukrainian Pavilion, together with Max Gorbatskyi.

The Ukrainian Pavilion, entitled Net Making, addresses the topic of otherness through personal experiences of war, emigration, assimilating into new societies, and the transformation of language under the pressure of violence. Commissioned by the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine, the Pavilion draws from the practice of Ukrainian civilians collectively weaving camouflage nets during the war.

Vika and Max have worked together since 2019 and have had their work displayed across Liverpool as part of the EuroFestival, a parallel programme of cultural events for the Eurovision Song contest last year.

Vika said: “Preparing and implementing the National Pavilion at the Biennale Arte is both a great honour and a challenge. It was a happy coincidence that the preparation of this project overlapped with my studies at the University of Liverpool, which strengthened my theoretical background and allowed me to explore contemporary culture more deeply.

“Also, collaborating with the course tutor, Vid Simoniti, both within the course and via his support of the Biennale project, was extremely important and beneficial for me. In general, the working methods of art institutions in Liverpool, especially the Open Eye Gallery, which became the pavilion’s main organisational partner and focused on socially engaged methods of working with their audiences, became a great inspiration and support for the project.”

The Ukrainian Pavilion and the University of Liverpool have worked in close partnership with Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool’s gallery for socially engaged photography. Open Eye has strongly supported Ukrainian artists with various projects, including the Home exhibition of Ukrainian photography.

The Department of Philosophy has been involved in an AHRC/IAA funded project which investigates the stories of those displaced by the conflict in Ukraine, hosting artists Andrii Dostliev and Lia Dostlieva at Open Eye gallery. Workshops with local Ukrainian community, academics and curators have been conducted to tell the stories of Ukrainian refugees. These works will be displayed at the Venice Biennale and have been covered by The Guardian.

Vid, Max and Vika

Dr Vid Simoniti, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Liverpool said: “It’s been a privilege to host artists Andrii Dostliev and Lia Dostlieva at the University, and collaborate with the curators of the Ukrainian Pavillion.

“We hope that art can deepen the audiences’ understanding of the Ukrainian experience, and hopefully strengthen the resolve to aid Ukrainians in their brave struggle.”

Vid’s recent book ‘Artists Remake the World’, offers a new theory of political communication through art.

The Venice Biennale runs until 24 November 2024. For more information visit